PENN HILLS, Pa. (KDKA) — Penn Hills High School held a memorial service following a recent string of sudden deaths among students.
Over the past month, four 17-year-old students have died. Three of them were victims of gun violence.READ MORE: Butler County Planning Walk And Candlelight Vigil To Remember Caitlyn Kaufman
Since the deaths of Day Meir Boyd, Darin Hobdy, Jason Jackson and Jason Lott, the high school has been filled with heartache.
“Four within four weeks is just beyond measure,” said Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hines. “We have some very committed people, very caring people who are doing their best. But we’re all struggling right now.”
At the rally, the community listened and the loved ones of Lott, Jackson, Boyd and Hobdy were overcome with emotions during this period of pain.
Jackson, Boyd and Hobdy were victims of gun violence, while Lott’s family said he died of a drug overdose.READ MORE: 'There's A Literal Bear In Our Backyard:' Black Bear Spotted Roaming Penn Borough Neighborhood
Gina Bigenho, Lott’s mother, told KDKA, “He was just a great kid. We miss him more than anything. Don’t think that you can try drugs. It was his first time and it killed him.”
And while the school year is coming to a close, administrators, elected officials, community organizers and faith leaders pleaded with the youth to put down the drugs and guns.
“This is part of the pandemic. There’s more violence and drug overdoses now than almost anytime in our history,” said Rep. Conor Lamb, who attended the vigil.
Ernest Ruffin of American Legion Post 17 said, “Get rid of that jealously, that envy, that hate, all those things that bound us from freedom. Martin Luther King and them did not fight for the struggle.”MORE NEWS: New Push In Pennsylvania Seeks To Give Frontline Workers A Boost In Hourly Pay
Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton told KDKA that one major issue surrounding all of these teen shootings is that people are reluctant to come forward with information for fear of snitching. Anyone with information is asked to call the police.